Troubleshooting Internet Explorer Hangs (and other applications too!)

From a consumer point of view seeing the message, "Internet Explorer has stopped responding" can be frustrating. Fortunately with Windows Vista information is collected about the hang which can be sent to Microsoft for further analysis, however you may not always get an answer on how to solve the problem. However, this information is useful for Microsoft to view data and examine trends to fix issues in the next release, so at a minimum we recommend always reporting crashes and hangs, with Internet Explorer, or any other application for that matter.

Now, lets say you're a savvy user and want to dig into the hang a little bit more, let's take a closer look at how we can do that.

First, understand what type of hang is it.

Soft hang

  • The application takes a longtime to return data - Slow is perceived as a hang.

  • The application takes a long time to open the application - Slow is perceived as a hang.

Hard hang

  • The application console does not respond to anything. In the case you will see the aforementioned dialog or have to manual close the application.

In both these cases the application is waiting on something else to complete before it can continue. It may be a network connection, a response from the server, or an embedded application such as Adobe Flash ®. In order to figure out the root cause we can do some 'trial and error' troubleshooting or to dig in deeper we'll need to use some troubleshooting tools.

Common troubleshooting steps

  • Start by disabling all IE add-ons one by one:

    1. From the Tools menu.

    2. Go to Manage Add-ons.

    3. Click on Enable or Disable Add-ons.

  • Disable all IE add-ons at once:

    1. Click on the Vista pearl.

    2. Click on All Programs then Accessories then System Tools

    3. Finally, click on Internet Explorer (No Add-ons)

  • Make sure you are running all the latest updates from Microsoft Update.

  • If the problem only happens with a specific webpage, there could be a problem with the page itself. In this case, you'll need to contact the page or site owner.

Hang troubleshooting tool

ADPlus - Download and usage instructions can be found here:

  • ADPlus is a useful tool which will gather a dumpfile, which is a snapshot of the process when a hang or crash occurs.

  • Once you have a dumpfile you'll need to analyze it. For some common steps to analyze the dump see this blog post and this one.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on debugging the dump!


Comments (1)

  1. vecaudill says:

    vista is undated; explorer is updated; each requested to open the d drive results in the "explorer hang" both soft(75%) and hard(25%) versions  any ideas or recommendations would be helpful

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